From the moment California Veterans Legal Task Force was founded, Executive Director Jude Litzenberger and CVLTF consultants worked to expand the number of veterans treatment courts in California. Utilizing their expertise in creating these unique collaborative programs, they have crisscrossed the state sharing information, doing community organizing, and coaching county teams. Consultants review the range of available veterans court models, helping these teams craft veterans treatment court initiatives which will be useful within their local communities.
In San Diego, VTRC Coordinator Litzenberger and other team members continue to provide community education to help leaders and stakeholders understand the need for the VTRC, how it works, eligibility requirements, and elicit help in identifying veterans eligible for the program. State Bar accredited Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) presentations to justice professionals ensure the veterans’ defense counsel are aware of the legal options in sentencing their clients. Presentations to veterans organizations garner support for these veterans in recovery and add partners in education and employment, support and resources to help veterans in the VTRC reach their full potential in recovery. Working with the Veterans Administration, CVLTF provides jail outreach to inmates to explain the law, give inmates’ attorneys valuable “how to” assistance in requesting treatment for their clients, and further connect these inmates to Veterans Administration and community resources prior to their release from custody
CVLTF’s statewide and national contributions include informational presentations to a range of organizations, including the National Conference of Veterans Service Officers; the National Coalition of Homeless Veterans annual conference; California State Bar Annual Meeting; Practicing Law Institute’s Veterans Series Webinars; California Jail Inmate Services Directors conference; and California Public Defenders Association statewide training conferences. CVLTF has collaborated with the California Department of Veterans Affairs and Judicial Council to help encourage development of these veterans treatment courts across the state, creating more than 100 community education presentations for groups of attorneys, judges, businesspersons, veterans groups and other interested stakeholders. Team members have also worked with statewide and national planning groups in pretrial diversion, domestic violence screening, responses to veteran homelessness, mentoring and treatment development projects.